This is an image of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest near Portland, OR. USDA photo.
The lands of the Pacific Northwest produce a bounty of grains, dairy, beef, fish, vegetables, and wild game that feed the people of the region and the rest of the country. Many of those who work directly with the land have been doing so for generations. Two of my own great uncles helped to bring irrigation to the Rogue River Valley near the turn of the 20th century, and my cousins have been farming there ever since.
Over time, farmers, ranchers, fishers, and private forest owners have accumulated knowledge and wisdom from family, local communities, and agricultural universities. These individuals have supported a technically progressive agricultural industry that supplies most of the nation’s potato crop and a good share of its wheat and milk. Agricultural producers are used to working with many sources of information about weather, water, climate, soils and fertility, pests, and disease and then making important decisions and investments about what they will do on the land. Their decisions about investments of time, money, and materials have daily, seasonal, annual, and multi-year implications. Selections of fruit, nut, grape, or forest tree varieties and capital investments in machinery, irrigation, and processing are made with today’s best information in anticipation of several decades or more. Doing this right requires both technical savvy and the wisdom to integrate many different kinds of information. Read more »
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., former chief of staff of the Army, talks to Lt. Col. Roger Walden during a recognition ceremony at the Pentagon on March 25, 2010. (U.S. Army)
During World War II, a time when segregation was still a part of everyday life, a group of 17 brave men took the plunge to serve their country and become the first all African-American paratrooper unit known as the Triple Nickles.
The battalion’s original goal – to join the fight in Europe – was thwarted when military leaders in Europe feared racial tensions would disrupt operations. At about the same time, the U.S. Forest Service asked the military for help to minimize damage caused by balloon bombs launched by the Japanese across the Pacific Ocean with the intent to start forest fires in the western U.S. during World War II.
In the end, few of the incendiary devices reached U.S. soil, but the Triple Nickles were instrumental in helping the Forest Service fight naturally-caused fires. They became history’s first military smokejumpers who answered 36 fire calls and made more than 1,200 jumps that summer of 1945. Read more »
The Shawnee National Forest will offer a new school program this year called Naturalist in the Classroom. Youngsters will have an opportunity to enjoy the Shawnee National Forest, like the kids here at the Young Trekkers afterschool program. Photo used with permission.
With declining budgets in the public school system, there has been a steady decrease in school fieldtrips in recent years. This plight further widens the disconnect between children and nature.
To help bridge the gap between the schoolroom and the natural world, the Shawnee National Forest will offer a new school program this year called Naturalist in the Classroom. The program will be piloted to third- through fifth-grade students in Union and Alexander counties located in southern Illinois, and will focus on two themes – forest ecology and wetland ecology. Read more »
The NASA Hyperwall, a huge monitor connected to the agency’s climate super computer will be used in assessing data from the GPM Core Observatory. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert Hudson Westover)
Understanding the effects of global climate change, especially the amount of precipitation contained in clouds, has been limited by the use of decades-old satellite technology. But now a soon-to-be launched NASA satellite, the GPM Core Observatory, will literally add another dimension to seeing into the complexity of clouds and the precipitation they may or may not contain.
“The new GPM satellite will give scientists much clearer and more concise data on rainfall estimates with more continuous areal coverage giving us a three-dimensional visual understanding of the effects climate change is having on the planet as far precipitation is concerned,” said Dave Cleaves, the Forest Service’s Climate Change Advisor. Read more »
Tim Mentz Sr., Standing Rock Sioux cultural resource expert, explains the historical significance of the area that is now the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota. (U.S. Forest Service/Fred Clark)
Our curiosity was palpable in our expressions, we visitors to this South Dakota field, as we pondered the patterns produced by the tops of rocks pressed into grass and soil, patterns tantalizingly organized and purposeful: shapes of things that have been. What stories were held in this small corner of the Black Hills National Forest?
As members of the Forest Service’s sacred sites executive and core teams, our task is to develop ways to fulfill the recommendations from the Report to the Secretary of Agriculture: USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations: Indian Sacred Sites.
Visiting this sacred place was the starting point of our learning and working together as a team. We needed to experience firsthand the feeling and meaning of this place to help us incorporate an appropriate attitude as we started three days of meetings on how to best implement the recommendations, to better protect and provide access to Indian sacred sites. Read more »
(from L to R) Matt Nosanchuk, Associate Director for Outreach, The White House; Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue; Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE); Meryl Harrell, Chief of Staff, NRE. USDA Photo: Tom Witham.
Dignitaries from the White House and USDA held a tree planting ceremony Thursday beside the National Mall to commemorate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year of the Tree. Thinking about the people planting that young Redbud tree to honor the conservation ethic of the Jewish community, I was reminded of just how important trees are to all of us.
In my job as the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, I’m charged with leading the agency that manages 193 million acres of forests that belong to the American people, as well as providing assistance in the management of 500 million acres of state and private forests and 100 million acres of urban forests. That’s a tremendous responsibility for the agency, one that often requires thinking in terms of the big picture, and how our decisions will impact the landscape in 30, 50, or even 100 years. Read more »